Will Smith delivered a slap that will likely reverberate throughout Hollywood for years to come in an incident that overshadowed the biggest night in the industry. In the episode that has become the focal talking point in the industry over the last 48 hours, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the latter made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. But as always in this day and age, one incident usually begets some other contextual thing coming up in its wake. And this time it got folks discussing other lowlights from the Academy Awards from the past. That got Clint Eastwood trending on Twitter with some wanting to bring up another unfortunate incident from a previous ceremony.
The incident with Clint Eastwood dates back to 1973 during the 45th Academy Awards show. During that ceremony, Marlon Brando famously declined to attend and receive his Best Actor Award for The Godfather. Instead, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather in his stead to accept the award. He was protesting the portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood films and also the standoff occurring at Wounded Knee which was happening at that time. Littlefeather ended up taking the stage, accepting the award and commenting on the situation at the time. It was following that acceptance speech that later Clint Eastwood took the stage and made a comment.
And following this incident, and after the comments by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne also took umbrage with the comments by Littlefeather and was waiting backstage. According to accounts from the time, Wayne was restrained by security guards at the venue, wanting to go up and have Littlefeather removed. She was reading a speech that was prepared by Brando. You can see the brief video below.
It was in response to this incident from almost 50 years ago that got Clint Eastwood trending in the here and now. On Twitter, folks were pointing to this happening as a bigger deal than what happened with Will Smith and Chris Rock on Sunday, wanting to call back to Eastwood’s comments. I’m not sure they are close to a one-for-one here, or really what one has to do with the other. But folks love an opportunity to drum things up from the past. You can see some of the posts below.
While people have tried to fold Clint Eastwood into the mix here when it comes to Will Smith and his actions on Sunday, it’s unlikely to have much in the way of staying power. After all, the slap on Sunday is likely to be in the collective consciousness for some time, almost definitely sticking as the most infamous incident in Academy Award history. Smith later went on to win Best Actor for his lead role in King Richard and at the time tried to explain his actions as a response to a joke made by Rock about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. And on Monday, Will Smith released a public apology to Chris Rock as well.
As for Clint Eastwood, the almost 92-year-old actor officially retired from the big screen last year with Cry Macho acting as his last film in a legendary career.